Global Health Travel Blog

UNC Gillings students share their global field experiences around the world.

Category: Enam and Munguu

Mwauka bwanji to all our readers!!

Mwauka bwanji is Good morning in Nyanja, one of the most widely spoken languages in Lusaka, Zambia.

For the second phase of our practicum, we were privileged to travel to Lusaka, Zambia with our preceptor, Dr. Alan Rosenbaum. We went mainly to observe and interact with the Fetal Age and Machine Learning Initiative (FAMLI) project team based in Zambia.

With Dr. Kasaro (far right) and Project Coordinators in UNC GPZ.

We were welcomed by Dr. Margaret Kasaro, country director of UNC Global Projects Zambia (UNC GPZ). On our first day, we had the privilege to meet with the project coordinators who talked briefly about the various projects UNC had in Zambia. We discussed enrollment and retention strategies as well as barriers and delays usually encountered in the various studies ongoing in Zambia.

Over the next couple of days we visited the FAMLI project sites in both the University Teaching Hospital and the Kamwala Health Center. We were given a tour of both research facilities and had the chance to observe the process of delivering an informed consent to a participant, determining eligibility and actually receiving their ultrasounds. The data managers and research assistants also educated us on data entry and storage in ways that protected the identities of participants. The sonographers allowed us in their space and gave us an opportunity to scan some of the mothers with their permission (we are both medically trained doctors in our respective countries).

Observing the doctor scanning the mother.

Enam scanning a mother with her permission.

Munguu scanning a mother with her permission.

Alan interacting with a mother who benefitted from FAMLI scans.

The most exciting part of the trip was interacting with mothers at various stages. We had the chance to meet and talk with those waiting on their scans; those who were receiving their scans and could not hide their excitement when the gender of their babies was revealed; and even those who had benefitted from FAMLI scans and had their babies. They showed us how they carry their babies on their back with the chitenge. Mothers seemed happy to be a part of the FAMLI study because they had access to free monthly scans. Ordinarily they would have to pay about 70 Kwacha for an obstetric scan.

Enam learning to carry a baby with a chitenge.

Finally, we managed to do some tourism in Zambia on the weekends. We enjoyed great food, safaris and game drives in the Lower Zambezi National Park, visits to crocodile farms, taste of crocodile meat and, of course, the great Victoria Falls. Unfortunately, we did not see “Mosi oa Tunia” – “The smoke that thunders” because it was in the dry season, however, we saw the beautiful rock cliffs behind the Falls.

Munguu with White Rhinos in the background.

We cannot end this blog without saying a big Zikormo (Thank You) to our preceptor, Alan Rosenbaum, Dr. Kasaro, and everyone at UNC Gillings, Global Women’s Health Division and UNC GPZ for making this practicum experience successful!

– Munguu and Enam

FAMLI already feels like FAMILY

As we walked through the UNC Women’s hospital doors last week, we were excited to be back in the clinical setting, but this time in a different capacity, as interns on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded Fetal Age and Machine Learning Initiative (FAMLI).

The Fetal Age and Machine Learning Initiative is a collaborative project being conducted by the UNC Global Women’s Health Division, NC State University and the University of Zambia School of Medicine. The overarching goal of the project is to develop a robust, inexpensive, widely deployable ultrasound device that can assess gestational age and other important obstetric conditions while requiring minimal operator skills.

We were welcomed by our preceptor and a friendly team of sonographers and researchers.

L-R: Dr. Rosenbaum (Preceptor), Munguu, Enam, Arieska (Sonographer) and Stephanie (Research Assistant)

L-R: Dr. Rosenbaum (Preceptor), Munguu, Enam, Arieska (Sonographer) and Stephanie (Research Assistant)

This summer, as interns, we will be contributing to this project by annotating ultrasound images that can be used to train machine learning algorithms to correctly assess gestational age and other diagnoses. Our experience will enable us to learn to properly identify and annotate ultrasound images of fetal parts, and assist in building a system that will help future annotators learn similar skills and perform the annotation tasks consistently.

Enam practicing reading ultrasounds.

Enam practicing reading ultrasounds.

Finally, we say this feels like family because we have a unique advantage of meeting with the team both in-person and virtually, and participating on conference calls that involves a diverse interprofessional team such as clinicians (OB/GYN, RN, sonographer), research staff (research assistants, managers), data managers, financiers (Gates Foundation), and collaborators (engineers and N.C. State and Google).

Watch out for future blog posts focusing on the second part of our internship where we get to travel and meet the team all in the way in Lusaka, Zambia!

-Enam and Munguu